I wanted my life to be extraordinary. Some fantastic magical story of success that is eventually made into a movie.
Fourteen years ago, after playing my last high school band concert, I stood with a microphone in my hand. I had confidence. A bounce in my step. No wrinkles on my face. I had a cute scarf tied around my neck and everyone was watching. Waiting. Each senior got in line to say what their plans were after graduation. Those who went before me would be doctors, lawyers, soldiers, teachers, nurses, fashion designers.
And then it was my turn.
I stood on the precipice of my future with eyes staring back at me from the bleachers and younger students burning holes into my back.
“I am going to be a writer,” I said.
There it was. Said so matter-of-factly. There was no question. No quiver in my voice.
I meant them, those bold words that fell off my tongue. I’d been saying that sentence to anyone who would listen my whole life. I had known for that long.
Like that little girl who plays with her dolls and knows she will be a mom. I sat with a pencil in my hand at six-years-old writing stories. There was the one about a deaf girl inspired by my hearing loss. And the one about my grandmother’s death. I still have them. They are saved in a brown moving box resting safely in our unfinished basement. Right along with poems about ex-best friends and ex-boyfriends and how alcohol got the best of me and how I finally found the man who would stand beside me for all my days. The saddest times of my life. The happiest times of my life. Every emotion and experience I’ve ever had.
That sentence. Saved in a box. Never opened. Never read.
There weren’t any students that stood up and announced they wanted to sit at a desk all day to make sure their checks cleared. There weren’t any students who declared they wanted to master potty-training their two-year-old or create a blog that a few select people and friends will read.
I wanted my life to be extraordinary.
And it is.
But not for the reasons I thought it would be.
I don’t live in New York City in a brick-walled loft. There are no red-bottomed shoes in my closet. There aren’t happy hours with martinis in my hand or cross-country book tours where I read an excerpt from my best selling novel and blush at the standing ovation. I don’t have the life that I thought would bring me pride.
Instead . . .
I get oodles of open mouth kisses from a baby that I grew in my belly.
I clap and wipe the toilet every time my son goes potty sitting on the adult toilet.
I sit in a hand-me-down rocking chair and sing to my baby until his forehead is sweaty.
I catch twenty pretend kisses that my toddler blows my direction after tucking him in.
I chase monsters away from behind bedroom curtains so my son is not scared.
I sleep beside a loving man who gives me a safe feeling that I haven’t felt since before leaving for college.
If one day someone asked me if my life is extraordinary or ordinary . . .
I would tell them it is ordinary. But look at all the extras God gave me.
I didn’t announce that I wanted any of what my life is now in my naive senior speech.
But I got it anyway.
I already am a writer. I always have been.
But I am more grateful for the extras I didn’t see coming.